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Indian connection' emerges from Mazar hell hole: report

Indian connection' emerges from Mazar hell hole: report

Author: Rashmee Z Ahmed
Publications: The Times of India
Dated: December 4, 2001

London: Two days after 85 foreign Taliban soldiers emerged blinking into the world from their subterranean hell hole in Qalai-Jhangi fort near Mazar-i-Sharif, reports say there is an India connection of sorts among some of the fighters and those they fought.

The most revealing of these, according to The Times, London, is the strange case of Abdul Hamid, formerly John Philip Walker of Washington D.C. In an account as chilling as it is considered incriminating for Pakistan's well-documented links with the Taliban, the paper quotes Hamid to say he fought Indian troops in Kashmir, alongside his Pakistani Taliban brethren.

The 20-year-old bearded and ragged convert to Islam, with a distinctly educated American accent, said he joined the Taliban six months ago, was taught to fire Kalashnikovs in an apparently rites-of-passage experience and was subsequently despatched to Kashmir.

There, said the former Mr. Walker, he fought Indian security forces alongside Pakistanis who made up the ranks of the foreign militants prosecuting the cause of Kashmiri self-determination.

But it is not just those who fought India who feature among the ranks of the scrawny, soot-blackened survivors of the Qala-i-Jangi prison revolt. Among the 400 foreign fighters reported to be held by the Northern Alliance at present, are several Indians, all of whom reportedly claim they are being wrongly accused of fighting alongside the Taliban.

One among them, according to British domestic broadcaster Sky, is Javed Farooqui, an old man who apparently finished up in Afghanistan by way of Britain and India.

Farooqui, who described his move to Afghanistan in 1997 as part of the "search for a more spiritual, pious life", denied he was ever a Taliban fighter.

He left his comfortable home in Wembley, north London, to "live like a saint", he said and seemed to hold his Pakistani fellow-prisoners in contempt.

"Most of them are from Pakistan and they are uneducated," the former London bank employee disdainfully told Sky TV's correspondent, who suggested that Farooqui's "English and Indian roots" set the old man well apart from the herd.

The foreign ranks of the Taliban have become a troubling part of an apparently fast concluding story of bombing, bloodshed, death and justice.

According to human rights activists, including the London-based Amnesty International, and the former John Walker, British and Pakistani fighters are the only ones who could conceivably be sent 'home', even if they ultimately faced trial for treason in the US and UK.

Commentators acknowledge that the disparate Arabs and Chechens are a lingering human problem because their governments would be unable or unwilling to take them back. But no one, least of all anyone in authority, has spoken so far of those claiming to be Indian among the ranks.

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